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The How-To Lounge: Dealing With a Fighting Couple

I don't know about you, but I dread awkward moments. One of the most awkward moments I've experienced was witnessing a couple's meltdown in a restaurant — after a 45-minute argument, the man said he wanted a divorce, the woman left alone crying, and I heard every word. Luckily, I didn't know them, but I have been in situations when I've had to witness one of my friend's arguments. Although most couples try to avoid exposing people to their problems, sometimes things just come out when you least expect it. To learn some helpful tips on handling these encounters,

  • Don't get involved. If you offer up your two cents, you might be making things worse for not only them but you, too.
  • Even if you're closer to one person, it doesn't mean you should choose a side. If you want to tell your friend that you agree with her that's fine, but wait until the two of you are alone. In fact, if your friend asks your opinion during the argument, you should politely decline to offer it.
  • Sometimes fights are just quick bursts that blow over quickly, but other times they can last for hours. If you find yourself dealing with an argument that won't end or that's continuing to escalate, excuse yourself. If that means leaving dinner before dessert, do it anyway — they're the ones being rude not you. Maybe your departure will remind them to take a few breaths.
  • If you're in a situation that you can't easily leave, like in a car or if you're a houseguest, you'll have to decide what would be less awkward for you: Either keep quiet, ride it out, or let them know respectfully, of course, that their fighting is making you uncomfortable.

If you've experienced this type of situation, please share with us how you handled it in the comments below.


Join The Conversation
Blackwood Blackwood 9 years
I don't do or say anything, and try to sneak somewhere else or act like I'm paying attention to the tv or newspaper if I can't just leave (which is always in this kind of situation, because it usually happens in a friend's house or car), maybe go to the bathroom or kitchen for a glass of water (lame excuse, but that's the point: it's such a transparent lie that they get the hint that I feel uncomfortable and want out) when they ask for my opinion (which is also almost always, especially from the girl) or to take a side, I answer honestly: "please, don't ask me, everyone is different" or just "I don't have anything to do with your issues" as long as you decline to join the discussion politely, they won't mind or be offended.
Carri Carri 9 years
I keep my mouth shut! No taking sides, no advice, no nothing. And if it happens more than once, I stop hanging out with them.
emalove emalove 9 years
I've seen all of my best friends fight with their husbands/fiances/boyfriends...nothing as dramatic as what you've described, but it is certainly awkward.
michelleannette michelleannette 9 years
VERY familiar. i have known a lot of couples who argue publicly. i have never quite figured out how to cope other than walk away.
bransugar79 bransugar79 9 years
This is so awkward. My bf and I used to fight a lot but that was when we were doing the long distance thing. I really hate having anybody know about my personal relationship stuff so we never faught in front of people. I owuld sometimes ask my close friends for advice on how I could handle things better but I wouldn't make someone pick sides because I know it's possible that I could have been wrong too. My bf has a friend who fights with his wife a lot. They have a bunch of issues and we would go over to hang out with htem and they wouldn't have full blown arguments but nasty comments would fly back and forth all night. Once for Christmas we gave them a nice basket with all the fixings for a romantic dinner together and the guy actually said who is that for and when we seaid it was for them to share he said why would I want to have a romantic dinner with her (ouch!) Things seemed to hav calmed down for them thankfully since he's joined the army but before that we just tried to stay out of it or make nice comments whenevr the daggers were thrown
sugarbritches sugarbritches 9 years
Yowza reading some of the comments. I try to keep it private when I have an argument like that and I NEVER put friends on the spot to agree with me or take sides. If I'm out with friends who are behaving like this I usually step away for a few mins and give them a breather, go to the bathroom or the bar to refresh my drink. If they're still at it when I get back it's time to bail!
kia kia 9 years
It wasn't with friends but we were at a work Christmas party and saw a couple going through a rough patch. The party was fairly upscale and pricey. There were about seven open bars around the property for folks to get hammered on. When my fiance and I were leaving we saw a man getting a bit physical towards a woman with a crowd of on-lookers watching her get shoved to the ground. I walked over to as her fiance went to give the valet his claim check and told her we would take her home or wherever she had to go. She said she couldn't because they had a baby together and asked me to walk away. It was really hard to watch them get in a car together because of the fighting and most likely the drinking. I last saw them at a picnic day at the zoo with their daughter and he was still a jerk to her there.
lickety-split lickety-split 9 years
when i was single there was a couple fighting in a club and the guy grabbed the woman by the arm, they were shoving, etc. the club kicked them out and i went outside to see if the woman wanted a ride home. she walked over to me and said through clenched teeth "go back inside and mind your own business". o-kay. after that i figured people were behaving as they wanted to and i would ignore it :)
SaRaH-22 SaRaH-22 9 years
Augh!This is the worse me and my bf use to hang out with this other couple all the time and it never failed anytime we ever went ANYWHERE wether it was to dinner or to vegas for the weekend ANYWHERE they would always end up fighting finally we just cut the cord and quit hanging out with them it started to make us dread spending time with them. I understand arguments come up from time to time but they were always like full-blown fights. Come to find out they are getting married in Oct. Oy! But i guess it works for them!
j2e1n9 j2e1n9 9 years
I agree. Its one of the MOST AWKWARD feelings in the world, and personally I think its very rude of couples to inflict this feeling on their friends. Save it for private.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
I used to be friends with this girl for 10 plus years, she got pregnant they got married, and it was WWIII from that point till now. She treats him like dirt, and he takes it, and they argue over everything! its so uncomfortable . He actually sleeps on the couch (its been 8 years now) she sleeps in the room with the 8 year old and now 1 year old (she says they got drunk one night and bam, second baby, first time having sex in 7 years) We didnt get involved in the arguements, although she tried to get us in on it. I think i stuck around so long because i felt so bad for her husband, but we dont go over there anymore. Married couples will argue, you just have to keep it private, people who argue in public WANT a scene, they feed on it.
Liss1 Liss1 9 years
Liss1 Liss1 9 years
A couple that we used to hang out with (they are divorced now) used to fight around us all the time. It was so uncomfortable. Once they had a huge fight at a BBQ at there house and my husband and i were sitting there with their 2 year old daughter kind of staring at each other going what do we do. It was awful.
Lovely_1 Lovely_1 9 years
It is so hard! I knew a couple that fought a lot and I was like whoa ok I am levaing and made a mental note to NEVER do that in public!
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 9 years
This can be so uncomfortable! I just keep my mouth shut and clear a path.
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